WVU football: Kansas State crushes WVU in second half
MANHATTAN, Kan. - For the second time in as many weeks, West Virginia's offense and defense conspired to produce no points and no answers to lose control of a game the Mountaineers could have won. They now find themselves two games under .500 as they try to reach a bowl for a 12th straight season.
Kansas State complicated that quest Saturday with 28 unanswered points in the second half and a 35-12 win before a crowd of 52,898 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"That doesn't happen to a good team," Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Tyler Lockett's third touchdown reception of the game with 7:31 to go capped a scoring frenzy that saw three touchdowns on three drives and 11:49 of clock. Following an interception, John Hubert added a four-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds remaining.
After rotating with no success in the first half, the Wildcats found a quarterback and a lead late in the third quarter. Daniel Sams handled every snap on 14-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that ticked 8:24 off the clock. They converted third-and-6, third-and-11 and third-and-goal when WVU rushed just three defenders, but still let Lockett find the back line in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown and a 14-12 lead.
WVU punted and KSU drove for a touchdown again, this time following the other quarterback. Jake Waters, who starts for KSU, came into the game on third-and-10 and completed a 32-yard pass. He went to the sideline, but came back on third-and-6 and ran for 10 yards. Waters stayed in the game and finished the drive with a 30-yard touchdown to Tramaine Thompson with 11:11 left in the game.
WVU moved into KSU territory when quarterback Clint Trickett scrambled for seven yards on third-and-5, but lost a fumble when stripped by safety Ty Zimmerman. The Wildcats recovered at their 46-yard line.
On the play before, Trickett overthrew a receiver and was fortunate Zimmerman couldn't reach back and intercept the pass.
Waters was in the game again and was 4-for-4 on the drive and found Lockett over a defender from 24 yards away with 7:21 to go.
Sams was 8-for-8 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown, but the better runner of the two quarterbacks only gained 13 yards on 13 carries. Waters, regarded as the better passer, completed 10 of 13 passes for 198 yards and three scores and added 55 yards rushing. Lockett caught eight passes for 111 yards and Hubert added 84 yards rushing and his score.
"I hope that refutes the idea that Daniel cannot throw it and it refutes the idea that Jake cannot run it," Wildcats Coach Bill Snyder said. "That is what we need, a balance of what they both can do. We have addressed this many times before. They have capabilities in both segments of the game."
The Wildcats were 1-for-5 on third down in the first half and 7-for-8 in the second half, including 7-for-7 on their four straight touchdown drives. KSU had 306 yards of offense in the second half and held onto the ball for 21:27.
"When we are good, that is what we do," Snyder said. "We have not always been good."
Trickett started for the fourth straight game, but was erratic with his throws and lost two fumbles. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 227 yards and was benched in favor of Paul Millard after the second fumble.
"You've got to be able to throw to open people and complete it and Clint's not doing a good job of that and he's turning the ball over," Holgorsen said.
Millard was 4-for-14 on two drives and threw an interception on the final play of the game. Running back Charles Sims led WVU with seven receptions for 54 yards and 43 yards rushing on eight carries.
WVU (3-5, 1-3 Big 12), which lost 37-27 at home last week to Texas Tech despite leading 27-16 in the third quarter, next plays at TCU and needs to win three of the final four games to be eligible for a bowl. After the Horned Frogs, the Mountaineers play host to Texas, play at Kansas and play host to Iowa State.
"I want four wins," nose guard Shaq Rowell said.
The Mountaineers created and escaped trouble early in the second half. Trickett was sacked and fumbled at his 22. Receiver Ronald Carswell fell on top of the ball, but slid over it and KSU (3-4, 1-3) recovered. The offense moved inside WVU's 10, but linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski forced a fumble that rolled into the end zone and was recovered by safety Karl Joseph, who forced a fumble earlier.
Trickett threw a short screen to Kevin White, who broke a tackle and found a block for a 43-yard gain to KSU's 37, but the Mountaineers settled for a 50-yard field goal for a 12-7 lead. They followed that with a punt, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs.
"I don't think we played very well the whole game," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "We did some good things in the first half, but in the third quarter we ran five plays. When you get the ball against a team like Kansas State, and you know they're going to sit on the ball, you've got to take advantage of it and we just didn't. We ran five plays in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we were completely not executing plays."
Playing on Homecoming after an open week, KSU trailed 9-7 at halftime with only 142 yards of offense, a meaningful score because the Wildcats have won the last 39 games they've led at halftime. It's the fourth-longest streak in the country.
They took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Waters subbed in for Sams on a third-and-15 at the WVU 35. A weak pass rush gave Lockett the time he needed to work past cornerback Ishmael Banks and get behind safety Darwin Cook for a touchdown.
Outside of that play, KSU had just four other first downs and averaged 4.5 yards per play in the first half. WVU's defense created one turnover at its 22 and forced four punts, two on three-and-outs.
It was still a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and that was not without meaning, either. In Holgorsen's 13 losses entering the game, he trailed at the end of the first quarter 12 times and had been shut out six times while being outscored 154-41. Add another deficit, another shutout and another seven points to the opposition after Saturday.
The Mountaineers, who battled field position because Nick O'Toole's punts into the wind averaged 33.5 yards in the first quarter, finally flipped the field to start the second quarter. A pair of first downs and O'Toole's punt pushed KSU back to its 6 and the Wildcats could only punt it back to midfield.
Dreamius Smith ran for 11 yards and Jordan Thompson held on for a 13-yard gain despite a thunderous hit from Zimmerman to set up first-and-goal at the 8. Trickett ended the drive with a six-yard touchdown run, but the extra point was blocked.
The Wildcats punted again and WVU avoided disaster when the punt return team somehow managed to avoid a bouncing punt in a crowd that was downed at the 17. A 50-yard pass with the wind to Carswell moved the Mountaineers to the KSU 6, but two runs gained two yards and a third-down pass fell incomplete before Josh Lambert's 21-yard field goal.
KSU went three-and-out again and a 13-yard reception by White and a 13-yard run by Sims on back-to-back plays gave WVU a first down at the Wildcats 12. On fourth-and-7, the Mountaineers decided to line up for a field goal, but fake it and let holder Michael Molinari run the ball. He gained four yards and KSU took the turnover on downs and ran out the rest of the half.
The decision to fake the field goal was made on the field and not the sideline.
"Every is my call. It was there," Holgorsen said. "We had first-and-5 on the 5 and it was disturbing, and there are a lot of things that are disturbing that we do offensively. We had to settle for a field goal, which is fine, but we had the look (the first time) that we wanted, so the next time that we went out there, if it was there we had to communicate it. We obviously did not get through to Mike what we needed to get through to him."
An eventful first half for the special teams was seemingly appropriate. The game captains were O'Toole, Lambert, Molinari and snapper John DePalma.